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have an ax(e) to grind

Fig. to have something to complain about. Tom, I need to talk to you. I have an ax to grind. Bill and Bob went into the other room to argue. They had an axe to grind.
See also: ax, grind, have


 and *ax
dismissal from one's employment. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) Poor Tom got the sack today. He's always late. I was afraid that Sally was going to get the ax.

have an ax to grind

also have an axe to grind
1. to have a selfish reason for saying or doing something The best reporting is done by people who don't have an ax to grind. After you get the same complaints from a number of people, you begin to think it may not be just people who have personal axes to grind.
2. to have a strong opinion about something that influences your actions I don't have an ax to grind about the fact that Christmas has become commercialized.
See also: ax, grind, have

get the ax

to be forced to give up your job Which employees are most likely to get the ax when the company downsizes?
Related vocabulary: get the boot
See also: ax, get

get the sack

to be told to leave your job He got the sack when they found out that he'd lied about his qualifications.
See hit the sack
See also: get, sack

ax to grind

A selfish aim or motive, as in The article criticized the new software, but the author had an ax to grind, as its manufacturer had fired his son . This frequently used idiom comes from a story by Charles Miner, published in 1811, about a boy who was flattered into turning the grindstone for a man sharpening his ax. He worked hard until the school bell rang, whereupon the man, instead of thanking the boy, began to scold him for being late and told him to hurry to school. "Having an ax to grind" then came into figurative use for having a personal motive for some action. [Mid-1800s]
See also: ax, grind

get the ax

Also, get the boot or bounce or can or heave-ho or hook or sack . Be discharged or fired, expelled, or rejected. For example, He got the ax at the end of the first week, or The manager was stunned when he got the boot himself, or We got the bounce in the first quarter, or The pitcher got the hook after one inning, or Bill finally gave his brother-in-law the sack. All but the last of these slangy expressions date from the 1870s and 1880s. They all have variations using give that mean "to fire or expel someone," as in Are they giving Ruth the ax?Get the ax alludes to the executioner's ax, and get the boot to literally booting or kicking someone out. Get the bounce alludes to being bounced out; get the can comes from the verb can, "to dismiss," perhaps alluding to being sealed in a container; get the heave-ho alludes to heave in the sense of lifting someone bodily, and get the hook is an allusion to a fishing hook. Get the sack, first recorded in 1825, probably came from French though it existed in Middle Dutch. The reference here is to a workman's sac ("bag") in which he carried his tools and which was given back to him when he was fired. Also see give someone the air.
See also: ax, get

get the sack

see under get the ax.
See also: get, sack

get the sack

and get the ax
tv. to be dismissed from one’s employment. Poor Tom got the sack today. He’s always late. If I miss another day, I’ll get the ax.
See also: get, sack

get the ax

See also: ax, get

give someone the ax

1. tv. to dismiss someone from employment. I was afraid they would give me the ax.
2. tv. to divorce someone. She gave him the ax because he wouldn’t stop smoking like he promised.
See also: ax, give


1. n. a bed. I was so tired I could hardly find my sack.
2. tv. to dismiss someone from employment; to fire someone. If I do that again, they’ll sack me.
3. and the sack n. a dismissal. (Always with the in this sense.) The boss gave them all the sack.
4. tv. in football, to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. I tried to sack him, but he was too fast.
5. n. the completion of a tackle in football. Andy made the sack on the ten-yard line.